The ACA act of 2010 is a U.S legislation that sought to reform the American health care system. Its main emphasis is on affording more American citizens access to reasonably priced and affordable health insurance, enhancing the quality of health insurance and health care and regulating the health insurance industry, as well as minimize United States spending on health care.
Health Insurance Exchanges
Health Insurance Exchanges are a set of state-regulated and standardized health care plans from which individuals may purchase coverage that is eligible for federal subsidies. They are one of the main focuses of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and offer a variety of insurance coverage for both individuals and small businesses. They allow people to shop and compare before enrolling in a particular health care plan.
Affordable Care Act of 2010 Influences on Businesses
A number of provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) have been identified as having considerable effects on small businesses, their employees as well as their families. Some of the requirements required by law place a lot of preconditions on small businesses and could in the long run have both adverse and favorable effects on these businesses.The features of the Affordable Care Act that relate the most bluntly to small businesses are: the creation of new insurance exchanges, penalties if the business fails to offer insurance coverage, tax credits and grants for wellness programs
Creation of Insurance Exchanges: this involves small businesses having the option of purchasing insurance through a new market referred to as the small business health option program. This exchange is intended to present individuals and small employers with a simpler way of comparing and purchasing plans before purchasing.
Penalties to Employers for Failing to Provide Affordable Coverage to their Employees: employers must provide insurance that covers at least 60 percent of the actuarial value of the cost of benefitsand the cover must also be affordable to the employees. However, there is no requirement that small businesses of less than 50 employees provide health insurance to their employees.
Tax Credits to assist in the Cost of Health Insurance: Small businesses with less than 25 FTE employees are entitled to tax credits to help with the cost of health insurance. However, to qualify the business must have an average annual wage of less than $50,000 and must be in a position to pay more than 50 percent of their employees health insurance.
Grants for wellness programs; this is applicable only for small businesses with fewer than 100 active employees, working for more than 25 hours per week and previously did not have a work place wellness program as at March 2010 qualify for grants to start such programs.
The Health Care Public Option
The public option is a health insurance program run by the government. It is operated like a private health insurance plan, except that the public option involves the government rather than a private company selling insurance. The public insurance is expected to be much less expensive than private insurance, as it is designed to serve mostly the low-income people who cannot afford the more expensive private insurance cover(Varney).
The controversy arises from the opposing position of the liberals who support the public option and the conservatives who oppose the option. Liberals state that the public insurance program is needed as it will enable a majority of the American population to afford cheap health insurance. On the other hand, conservatives argue that the government involvement inhealth care will worsen the situation. They state that government intervention will be destructive to patient’s health if more government bureaucrats are involved in their health care. They add that in government ran health care, patients face long and often deadly waiting which usually results to more mortalities.
The Role that the Government Can Play In Health care
The United States system of government provides for the government to do only that which private institutions cannot or will not do. The role has been to intervene only when a remedy is needed for a failure of the private sector to provide a service. However, personally, I am of the opinion that governments should be involved in the provision of any service which is classified as a basic right in constitution, health care included. The failure of the private sector to invest in a particular field can only be attributed to the inability of that field to give them good returns, therefore, their investment in a particular sector means they are getting good returns even if it is at the expense of exploiting the public. Therefore, personally I am of the opinionthat when it comes to the health care sector, the government should play an active role in its provision,including health education, immunizations, family planning services and material and child health services. However, I think more can be achieved if government works in partnership with NGOs and private health care providers.
Kaiser Family Foundation. Explaining Health Reform: How will the Affordable Care Act affect Small Businesses and their Employees? 1 January 2012. 2 June 2014. <http://kff.org/health-reform/fact-sheet/explaining-health-reform-how-will-the-affordable-care-act-affect-small-businesses-and-their-employees/>.
Varney, Sarah. The Public Option Did Not Die. 12 January 2012. 3 June 2014. <http://www.kaiserhealthnews.org/stories/2012/january/13/public-option-health-insurance.aspx>.
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